GNU Project is a free software, mass collaboration project. The founding goal of the project was, in the words of its initial announcement, to develop "a sufficient body of free software [...] to get along without any software that is not free.

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102
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5answers
18k views

Why isn't Linux embraced as the official GNU kernel?

While I knew for quite some time the existence of Hurd, and its mission as the official GNU Operating System kernel, I was wondering how come Linux is not embraced as the official GNU kernel over the ...
36
votes
4answers
4k views

What is GNU Info for?

I understand what GNU Info is and how to use it, but what is it for? Why does it exist in parallel to the man pages? Why not write detailed man pages rather than provide a separate utility?
31
votes
1answer
2k views

Were all Unix commands re-written in Linux?

I would like to know which commands were re-written for Linux and which were retained from Unix? I'm new to Linux.
30
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the `[` program that resides in my system's /bin?

I was recently browsing my Fedora's /bin folder and noticed a binary named [. I did try to search the internet for more information on that, but I couldn't find anything useful. Running it through ...
28
votes
1answer
3k views

When and how was the double-dash (--) introduced as an end of options delimiter in Unix/Linux?

I don't think the shell/utilities in historical Unix nor in something as "recent" as 4.4BSD supported using a double-dash(or two consecutive hyphens) as an end of options delimiter. With FreeBSD, you ...
24
votes
4answers
14k views

What are the differences between bsdtar and GNU tar?

I've always used GNU tar. However, all GNU/Linux distributions that I've seen ship bsdtar in their repositories. I've even seen it installed by default in some, IIRC. I know for sure that Arch ...
20
votes
1answer
6k views

What are the main differences between BSD and GNU/Linux userland?

I've read a lot on Unix & Linux about BSDs and GNU, etc. But I still don't understand what some actual, practical differences are between BSD and GNU userlands, despite the fact that they are ...
18
votes
5answers
22k views

Parallelize a Bash FOR Loop

I have been trying to parallelize the following script, specifically each of the three FOR loop instances, using GNU Parallel but haven't been able to. The 4 commands contained within the FOR loop run ...
15
votes
2answers
977 views

Is it possible to run pure GNU?

On the GNU Project webpage, there's a subsection called "All GNU packages" which lists the various software in the GNU project. Are there any GNU distributions which use only these packages -- i.e. a ...
14
votes
4answers
5k views

Any options to replace GNU coreutils on Linux?

I've been thinking about discontinuing the use of GNU Coreutils on my Linux systems, but to be honest, unlike many other GNU components, I can't think of any alternatives (on Linux). What alternatives ...
13
votes
1answer
183 views

Why does `find . -type f` take longer than `find .`?

It seems like find would have to check whether a given path corresponds to a file or directory anyway in order to recursively walk the contents of directories. Here's some motivation and what I've ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

Ideal Hardware for GNU/Linux Laptop

What's the best way to find a laptop with hardware that is amenable to installing and running GNU/Linux? I'm looking for something that will ideally work with GPL'd drivers and/or firmware. I took a ...
12
votes
4answers
10k views

sed on OSX insert at a certain line

So I've been using 'sed' on linux for a while, but have had a bit of difficulty trying to use it on OSX since 'POSIX sed' and 'GNU sed' have so many little differences. Currently I'm struggling with ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does FreeBSD use the GPL-licensed GCC?

Why does FreeBSD use GCC as its default compiler? I am under the impression that a core pillar of the FreeBSD philosophy is not to use any GNU software and in particular, GPL code. Yet GCC which is ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

What's the difference between “dir” and “ls”?

I have compared the man pages of dir and ls and they seem to be exactly the same. Both are part of GNU coreutils and "list directory contents". The only difference I've seen so far is that dir ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there a practical use for the GNU factor command?

Looking through the GNU Coreutils, I spotted the factor command, that I had never noticed before. Reading the man page: Print the prime factors of each specified integer NUMBER. If none are ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Check ping statistics without stopping

Is there a way to tell ping to show its usual termination statistics without stopping the execution? For instance, I'd like to quickly view: --- 8.8.8.8 ping statistics --- 2410 packets transmitted, ...
10
votes
1answer
261 views

Why didn't GNU Info succeed man?

As per my knowledge/understanding both help and man came at the same time or have very little time difference between them. Then GNU Info came in and from what I have seen is much more verbose, much ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the point of ls -f (or, why is this hanging?)

I've got a directory with about 100,000 files in it. ls -f hangs for over a minute. I ran strace, and immediately started seeing getdents, so ls is clearly reading the directory. I also see a lot ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

GNU/Hurd vs. GNU/Linux

I was quite surprised to learn that the GNU project has an independent kernel of their own called Hurd. And there are mainstream distributions like Arch Hurd and Debian GNU/Hurd which uses it. Is ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How is the order in which tar works on files determined?

$ touch dir/{{1..8},{a..p}} $ tar cJvf file.tar.xz dir/ dir/ dir/o dir/k dir/b dir/3 dir/1 dir/i dir/7 dir/4 dir/e dir/a dir/g dir/2 dir/d dir/5 dir/8 dir/c dir/n dir/f dir/h dir/6 dir/l dir/m dir/j ...
8
votes
1answer
535 views

What is the font used for GNU documentation?

I am interested in learning how documentation for GNU related software is written, and am wondering what type of font is used in their PDF documentation? (for instance, the GCC manual here: ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Why bash time is more precise then GNU time?

The buitin bash command time gives milisecond precision of execution and GNU time (usually /usr/bin/time) gives centisecond precision. The times(2) syscall gives times in clocks, and 100 clocks = 1 ...
7
votes
3answers
293 views

In shell config scripts, how can I account for differences between coreutils on BSD compared to GNU?

Up until this month, my shell configs have been pretty simple (just a .bashrc or .bash_profile with some aliases mainly), but I have been refactoring it so I can get different behavior depending on ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Is GNU PDF Library in active development?

I've been hearing about The GNU PDF Library since 2007. Since then I've been looking forward to see this tool in the wild, but four years have passed and it seems to me that this is a painfully long ...
7
votes
1answer
725 views

Poor Man's GNU Parallel implemented in ksh?

I'd like to use the feature of GNU parallel where it can execute the command and the list it's fed in parallel and spit it out after it's all done, however, I don't want to install GNU parallel across ...
7
votes
2answers
77 views

texinfo: Can I write non-english info files? Such as Chinese, and how?

Most gnu manual files use info, write a texinfo then makeinfo produces info files, it's great. Can texinfo contain non-English characters then produce non-English infos or pdfs? How can I write ...
6
votes
3answers
903 views

What exactly do we mean when we say we are using Linux?

I was going through an article on GNU which goes something like below There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: ...
6
votes
2answers
279 views

System programming: How to gather info?

According to this question, a good way to learn system programming would be to implement the existing tools. I decided to try to rewrite ls and ps. My question is how would one proceed to get ...
6
votes
3answers
251 views

What do the “features enabled” in GNU find mean?

When I use find --version with GNU find, I get something like this: find (GNU findutils) 4.5.9 [license text] Features enabled: D_TYPE O_NOFOLLOW(enabled) LEAF_OPTIMISATION FTS(FTS_CWDFD) ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

Why doesn't tar ask before overwriting existing files?

I lost a couple hundred lines of a Vim plugin I wrote and continue back up every so often because I extracted a tar file containing an older version. I decided not to use source control management ...
4
votes
5answers
330 views

Is there a plain GNU/Linux OS?

I'm currently looking at all the different Linux distros and can't seem to find the original GNU/Linux OS. Apparently there is a GNU System which combined the GNU project with the Linux kernel. How do ...
4
votes
1answer
337 views

Why GNU find -execdir command behave differently than BSD find?

On my OSX, I've installed GNU find next to default BSD find via: brew install findutils. As far as I understand, BSD find is following POSIX standards and GNU makes it optional (as per this post), ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the different ways to set file permissions etc on gnu/linux

On Unix, a long time back, I learned about chmod to set permissions, and to allow programs to gain privileges (using setuid, setgid). I have recently discovered some newer commands, on GNU/Linux: ...
4
votes
1answer
432 views

`set -e` and `grep` idiom for preventing premature exit from shell script when pattern not found

Help required - in the context of shell scripting on a GNU/LINUX bash: I always use set -e. Often, I would like to grep and do not always want the script to terminate execution if grep has an exit ...
4
votes
1answer
76 views

Why does a '.' work in chown?

Why does GNU chown user.group work? The docs say nothing of the syntax being supported. Is there a juicy story behind it?
4
votes
2answers
230 views

How to prevent automake from overwriting INSTALL?

I'm working on a project that has a custom INSTALL file. Running automake --add-missing (or more precisely, autoreconf -i) will generate the GNU default INSTALL file, and overwrite our file with it. ...
4
votes
1answer
263 views

Disable GNU Indent backup files

I am using GNU Indent to format C code in my project. By default backup files are created ending with a ~. I don't want to have any backup files created, is there a way to disable it?
4
votes
1answer
64 views

Why does Gawk in compatibility mode split records in the same way as when GNU extensions are enabled?

I'm not sure if I found a bug in Gawk or if I'm misreading / missing something in gawk's man page. According to gawk's man page, when in compatibility mode, if RS contains multiple characters, only ...
4
votes
1answer
68 views

How to find how many windows are opened in GNU screen?

I am trying to automate my work flow. I have a script that opens individual window in screen for each IP in a list. Imagine setupscreen.sh <IP1> <IP2> .... After all windows are open, each ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Install only a few GNU coreutils?

Is there a way to build and install only a few of the GNU coreutils? The README in coreutils-8.19.tar.xz lists 100-odd, but the INSTALL doesn't say how to install only a few, and the Makefile is (to ...
3
votes
5answers
680 views

What makes a distribution GNU and are there Linux distributions, that are not GNU? [duplicate]

So GNU/Linux is an operation system, consisting of several programs at a minimum: Linux kenel, gcc, gnu-binutils, Gnome desktop, etc. What makes a Linux distribution GNU? Is it the tools, with which ...
3
votes
2answers
629 views

Merging /usr/bin and /usr/sbin into /bin (GNU/Linux)

I've read quite a number of discussions about people wanting to merge /bin and /sbin into /usr/bin. The same cannot be said for doing it the other way around. Is there any technical reason why one ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the relationship between GNU and GNOME?

Is there any relation between GNU and GNOME? And further related license GPL?
3
votes
2answers
572 views

Mac OS X command-line tools - differences from FreeBSD

As I understand it many Mac OS X command-line tools (like ls, cp, chmod, chown etc.) are imported from FreeBSD. Which version of FreeBSD contains the command-line tools most compatible with the OS X ...
3
votes
1answer
719 views

“tar --exclude-backups” does not exclude files with tilde at end

If I have the following directory: $ ls -a foo . .. a #a# a~ b b.bkp c .git .hg .svn and call: $ tar zcf foo-no-bkp.tar.gz --exclude-backups foo/ The resulting archive still has backup ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

Are Icecat and Iceweasel different projects?

I was interested in finding Firefox 'clones' in Linux when I heard about Icecat and Iceweasel. But while Icecat can be installed with sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnuzilla-team/ppa && ...
3
votes
2answers
480 views

What are the kernel, the “GNU tools and utilities”, the shell and the Window Manager?

Among the many components of a Linux system, I find myself confused (as a newbie) about what exactly is the kernel or what is GNU's part. I understand some basic concepts of this, but where is the ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

GNU sort --compress-program compressing only first temporary

I am sorting big files (>100Go), and to reduce time spent on disk writes, I am trying to use GNU sort's --compress-program parameter. (Related: How to sort big files?) However, it appears in certain ...
3
votes
3answers
221 views

Regex search for word roots with common prefixes

I recently had a curiosity about words in the dictionary that share both "pro-" and "con-" as a prefix. So, for example, procession/concession, produce/conduce, profess/confess, progress/congress, and ...